Everyone just wants to feel safe. Unfortunately, some people meet someone that does not let them feel safe when they are near. In some cases, just putting some distance between that other person is enough to get them to leave the other alone. Unfortunately, not everyone can take the hint.
Sometimes the person continues to bother the victim to the point that they seek legal help in the form of a restraining or protective order. No matter which term the person uses, the effect is the same. The other person is legally banned from communicating with or going anywhere near the victim for a set length of time.
What Is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order, or a protective order, is a court issued document that informs a proven abuser that they need to keep a certain distance away from their victim. The abuser has to keep away from the victim, and stay away from areas that the victim may frequent. The victim can even request to have it so the abuser cannot contact them through any means, including:
• Over the phone.
• Through email.
• Through the mail.
• With a fax.
• With a text.
All of this is done in order to protect the victim and prevent more abuse from occurring.
Different Types of Restraining Orders
There are four different types of restraining orders here in the state of California. They are as follows:
• Domestic Violence Restraining Order – Issued to people who have suffered abuse from intimate relationships.
• Civil Harassment Restraining Order – Issued for people who have been harassed by people such as neighbors and co-workers, basically anyone the person isn’t close to.
• Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Order – Issued to protect elders over the age of 65 or adults between the ages of 18 and 64 who have certain disabilities.
• Workplace Violence Restraining Order – Requested by an employer to protect an employee from another employee.
These restraining orders can all either be temporary or permanent, depending on the situation.
Penalties of Breaking a Restraining Order
Since restraining orders are meant to protect people, breaking a restraining order is taken very seriously. California Penal Code (PC) 273.6 makes it illegal for a person to not follow the instructions in a restraining order issued against them. The consequences of breaking this law are dependent on whether or not this is the first time the person has been charged with PC 273.6, how the person failed to adhere to the restraining order, and if the victim got hurt.
Typically, breaking PC 273.6 for the first time is a misdemeanor offense. In these instances, a person faces:
• Up to 1 year in county jail.
The judge on the case can also order any of the following:
• Payments to a battered women’s shelter.
• Restitutions to the victim.
If the person has broken this law more than once, or the victim got hurt, the crime becomes a wobbler. This means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or as a felony. If charged as a felony, the person faces 16 months, 2, or 3 years in state prison.
To Feel Safe
People just want to feel safe, and sometimes that means keeping certain people as far away from them as possible. This is what restraining orders are for. They instruct an abuser to stay away from their victim or else there will be consequences.
If a person wants to get a restraining order against someone, they need to get the proper paperwork. The papers can often be found at a local court or other law enforcement agency office. Once a person has the paperwork, just fill it out and submit it to the proper authorities.
What do you think of how California deals with restraining orders and the people who break them? Is the punishment for breaking a restraining order fair, or not enough?